The Bathford Society

History - Schools in the Parish of Bathford

John Renoden's Bathford Boarding School

Issues of the Bath Chronicle of 1788 and 1789 had an advertisement by Mr John Renoden for pupils to attend his Bathford Boarding School. The advertisement read "Those parents who will be pleased to honour him with the tuition of their children, may depend on the strictest care and attention being paid to their children, morals, and behaviour. Latin taught."

We have no record of where the school was located of how long it existed. One possibility is that it was in the old Warleigh Manor House which the Skrine family had left at that time due to its delapidated state. Mr Renoden was the master of the St. Swithun's Sunday School in 1818 and appears to have taught there between 1815 and his death in 1822.

The National School at Bathford - the Bathford CofE VC Primary School

The National Day School was established in 1839 and a school house built on the site of the former court barn at Lower House Farm, Church Street. Over time this school evolved into the Bathford CofE VC Primary School and moved to the current site on Dovers Park. See Bathford School - A Pictorial History for details.

Schools at Eagle House 1942-1982

In 1942 Eagle House was bought from a private owner by the Home Office to accommodate delinquent girls attending St. Joseph's convent, an Approved School whose premises in Bristol had been bombed. Some 90 girls and nuns lived in the house in cramped conditions with bunk beds stacked three high and temporary huts erected on the terrace. The main room of the house was set aside as a chapel. In 1947 the convent moved to larger premises at Ashwicke Hall, west of Colerne airfield.

On 1st April 1949 the house re-opened as an Approved Home for up to 28 young boys, with Miss Trewick in charge. At first the boys attended Bathford school, but when they proved too much for the headmaster there, specialised tuition was provided for them at Eagle House. Initially the teacher there was Mr. Denley who left in 1956. Maurice Dobbs joined the staff at the start of 1957 and became Head on Miss Trewick's retirement in 1968. Maurice Dobbs ran the school for 14 years until it closed and the building was sold in 1982.

Schools at Warleigh Manor 1958-1997

In 1958 Rodbourne College opened at Warleigh Manor, following the sale of the property after the death of Miss Anna Dorothea Mary Skrine in 1956. Rodbourne College was a day and boarding school for boys which occupied Warleigh Manor House and took full advantage of the 110 acre estate. This included a school farm and frontage to the River Avon which facilitated swimming and boating.

From 1963 to 1970, under new ownership, Warleigh Manor was home to Bathford College, teaching boys from 11 to 16 years of age.

The manor was then bought by Allan Powell, an educational psychologist from Bath who re-decorated and re-equipped the house and in April 1972, opened Warleigh Manor School with himself as the principal and John Dwyfor Davies as head teacher. This school was a residential special educational establishment for emotionally damaged children with consequent learning difficulties. The school had a unique and individual approach to meeting the boys' specific educational and emotional needs. The accommodation was for over 60 boys, whose ages ranged from under 5 to 16 years, and who came to the school from all parts of the country. Constant supervision was provided by a staff of nearly 50, all dedicated to the pupils' education, health, recreation and welfare. The curriculum prepared the pupils for the CSE and GCE exams. Having overcome their earlier handicap, many of the boys subsequently continued their education at technical colleges. Such achievement is a tribute to the staff and to the successful endeavour of the pupils, and also to the dedication and charismatic personality of Les Alderman.

Les Alderman had previously taught at Eagle House school and joined the staff at Warleigh Manor School during the 1970s. In 1982 he took over the ownership of Warleigh Manor and, with the success of the methods practiced at the school under his guidance, in the early 1990s he was asked to advise on remedial education at Russian Orphanages in Leningrad and Moscow. In 1995, while still based at Warleigh Manor, he set up the "Redkidz" charity to help homeless Russian children. However, the school at Warleigh did not survive his frequent absences in Russia and closed in December 1997.

Source: Bathford Past and Present

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